A good proposal can change your life. Writing good proposals can mean the difference between closing a deal and walking away empty-handed. Let’s discuss some of the things you should consider when preparing and writing your proposals.
Preparation is critical. Make sure you can answer the following questions before you get started:
- What is the problem the customer has? Can you explain it in detail?
- What is your plan to solve the customer’s problem?
- What are your qualifications to provide the solution?
- How much will it cost?
- How long will it take?
Once you have that information, you can begin the process of writing your proposal. In general, a proposal should contain the following seven sections:
- The hook
This is the most important part of the proposal; it is your opening statement that ensures the reader will read the entire proposal. Frequently, this takes the form of an attractive promise to solve a problem the customer has.
- The problem
You need to prove to the customer you fully understand their problem. It also does not hurt to tug on some pain points here to elicit an emotional response.
- The solution
This is not a list of steps or products you intend to deliver. This is the part where you describe, in enticing language, how your solution solves their problem and benefits them.
- Why you
Next, you need to qualify yourself and your team to provide the proposed solution. It is appropriate to list key employees, experience, and any relevant certifications.
- Set expectations
Setting expectations is key to any proposal, and one area that is almost always asked about—but frequently not answered in the proposal—is timeline. Providing a timeline answers this question before they ask and shows you took a little extra time and effort to prepare your proposal (versus your competition).
Of course, you must include your price. There are many opinions on how this should be done. They range from simply stating the bottom-line price to breaking out every individual product and labor line. My suggestion is to apply value-based pricing. Give them enough information to show the value you are delivering without providing so much detail as to make it easy to shop around with your proposal in hand.
- Call to action
Lastly, just like starting with a strong, bold statement, your conclusion should also be a bold call to action. The whole purpose of the proposal comes down to them accepting it and moving forward with the project or contract. Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale.
Proposals are a part of business-to-business sales. They offer you an opportunity to show the customer your professionalism and, more importantly, how well you understand their problems. Learning to write them well can inspire your prospects to become customers as well as get existing customers to upsell and engage more of your services.
Eric Anthony is the Head Operations Nerd at SolarWinds MSP. Before joining SolarWinds, Eric ran his own managed services provider business for over six years.
You can follow Eric on Twitter at @operations_nerd